Blu-Ray Review: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Alec Leamas

With the death of John le Carré at the end of last year, the world lost one of the greatest spy novelists to ever pick up a pen. His work has enthralled readers for decades and his tales of Control and the British secret service have inspired and influenced many others. His books have been adapted for film and television many times, including Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, The Constant Gardener and The Night Manager. His most famous is probably The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) returns to London after the death of his last operative in Berlin. The station chief has been recalled by Control (Cyril Cusack) only to be given a dangerous new assignment. In order to snare Mundt (Peter van Eyck), the head of East German intelligence, he is to act as an embittered, depressed and alcoholic ex-employee in order to catch the spymaster’s eye. However, he endangers his mission by having an affair with a librarian (Claire Bloom) with communist sympathies.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold does a superb job of transposing the brutality and decay of the novel onto the big screen. Much of this is down to Burton who gives a virtuoso performance as a man stuck somewhere between reality and make-believe. Each shot is beautifully rendered, creating a visual feast. There’s a cold edge to Martin Ritt’s deadly tale of deceit. A wrongness which inhabits every dark corner. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a tale is a thrilling and tense espionage drama.

Special features:

  • Limited Edition Exclusive O-Card slipcase with new artwork by artist Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju) [2000 copies]
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Uncompressed LPCM Stereo audio
  • Optional English SDH
  • Brand new audio commentary with film scholar Adrian Martin
  • Brand new video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns
  • A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Richard Combs

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on 17 May.

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